Chris Collins Q&A 2016-17

    Entering his fifth season as head coach of Northwestern, Chris Collins has a defining year ahead of him.

    Photo by Mia Zanzucchi

    Chris Collins is entering his fifth year as head coach of Northwestern men's basketball. The young coach has now had time to recruit his own players and shape the program, and his vision of NU basketball is starting to become a reality. Entering an exciting, defining year in the evolution of the Wildcats, Collins discussed NU's upcoming season. 

    On the experience of the team:

    “It’s been great to have some veterans that have been around. Our culture is pretty good in terms of the way we work and what’s expected and the way we do things. Having that core groups of juniors and seniors that have now been with me since my first years has made the transition into the new season a little bit more seamless. We really only have two guys we’re trying to catch up to speed with things - Isiah [Brown] and Barret [Benson].”

    On improvements that can be made from last season:

    “One of the things we have to do a better job of to run more is we have to do a better job of is forcing some turnovers - that was a real weakness of ours last year. We were a pretty solid defensive team in terms of field goal percentage defense and points allowed per game, but we didn’t get a lot of easy baskets, because we were on the bottom end of steals per game, turnovers forced, things like that. A lot of times you can run from turnovers.”

    On junior point guard Bryant McIntosh:

    “I think sometimes he gets a little bit undervalued in terms of how good he is. I think he’s a premiere point guard, and if you put his numbers and his efficiency and usage rate playing at this level, I think you can match him up with most of the point guards in the country … We do have a gem in Bryant. He is one of the best players, not only in the Big Ten, but at his position nationally.”

    On creating the season’s lineups:

    “I think McIntosh will be in there and I think Pardon will be in there, and after that we’re still figuring out who we’re going to start and who we’re going to bring off the bench. I’ve been playing around with a lot of lineups, but I do like the versatility in those middle spots.”

    On the team's versatility:

    “It makes you more unpredictable. We’ve been a good team the last couple years but we were a little bit predictable. You had McIntosh, Demps, Olah and then you had a bunch of guys trying to find their way. On different nights we had different contributors, but it was really those three guys. But now, I really we think we have 5-6 guys, that on a given night, could score 18-20 points in a game. That makes it hard for teams to really lock in and prepare for different guys.”

    On key role players:

    “Those 5 guys (Scottie Lindsey, Aaron Falzon, Dererk Pardon, Vic Law, Gavin Skelly) I mentioned, to me, are really the key to our team because I think if they can do what we feel they can do, and believe that they can do it, then we can have an outstanding season. It’s their time to step up and take control of what they can and be constants for us, and not wildcards. I’m interested to see how those guys can respond to stepping into those roles.”

    On the at-large goals of the program:

    “When we first came as a staff four years ago, my goal was to try to create a program in basketball that was going to be in the mix each and every season. I think we knew in order to do that it was going to take a little bit of time, and it didn’t mean that we competed any less, but we knew that if we wanted to do it the right way and it was going to be something that was long-lasting that we had to attack recruiting and get the right guys in here. It was going to take a couple years of the right guys to start to turn the corner. I think our progression has been pretty good, I think we’ve gotten better every year … We’re at that stage now, though, where we’ve got to bust through the door. In order to take the next step, we have to have a breakthrough. You’ve got to win significant games, you’ve got to be a postseason team and you’ve got to continue to take those steps.”

    On the “B-Mac For The Dime” marketing campaign:

    “We’re transitioning [to] where we do have outstanding players. I want it to be about the guys. I want people, when they think of Northwestern, to think it’s Bryant McIntosh’s team. That’s because it’s his time. And as other guys emerge, I want to always promote our guys as best as we can … We’re trying to continue to upgrade who we are as a basketball program. We have aspirations. We want to be legit, so when you’re legit you promote your players, you do things at a high level, and I think it was another step in the right direction for us.”

    On making the NCAA Tournament:

    “That’s one goal, but it’s not the goal. The goal is to have a program that’s good every year and that is in the mix to be a tournament team every year. We’re not there yet, we’re still working towards that and we have a lot of work to do, but we’re excited about what can happen this season.”


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